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Sir Paul Nurse: Climate Sceptics Should Be ‘Crushed And Buried’

Ben Spencer, Daily Mail

Politicians who do not believe in climate change should be ‘crushed and buried’, according to the new president of the British Science Association.

Sir Paul Nurse, who starts his presidency next week, pledged to ‘take on’ the ‘serial offenders’ who he accused of cherry picking scientific facts to suit their arguments.

In an extraordinary outburst, Sir Paul accused those who refuse to accept scientific orthodoxy on global warming of ‘distorting’ the facts.

Sir Paul launched what could be interpreted as a thinly-veiled attack on former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who is widely viewed as a climate sceptic.

He also targeted climate sceptic lobby groups such as that run by former Chancellor Lord Nigel Lawson.

Mr Paterson, who was sacked by David Cameron in July, has said he believes the negative impact of global warming has been exaggerated – to the exasperation of climate scientists.

Sir Paul, speaking in London yesterday, said: ‘Today we have those who mix science up with ideology and politics, where opinion, rhetoric and tradition hold more sway than adherence to evidence and logical argument.

‘There have been ministers – recent past ministers – who have paid attention to some parts of science with respect to genetically modified crops and apparently not other parts with respect to climate change.’

Mr Paterson is a fierce supporter of the drive for GM food – a cause which earned him friends in science, but the fury of many consumers.

Sir Paul said: ‘Politicians live in a world where the strength of their rhetoric means much more than scientific content.

‘They can’t play with science – they have to listen to science and scientists.

Sir Paul, who will expand on his comments during his inaugural address at the British Science Festival in Birmingham next week, has long been an outspoken critic of what he sees as the politicisation of science.

The geneticist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 2001, has previously criticised US politicians for opposing the teaching of natural selection in schools.

Sir Paul said yesterday: ‘Scientists should think hard about our relationship with politicians. We should not just sit on the sidelines and sneer and criticise all the time.

‘We have to work on good relationships so that they feel ashamed to say some of the things they say.’

The scientist also criticised Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate-sceptic think tank.

Sir Paul said: ‘We have to be aware and beware organisations that pretend to talk about science but masquerade as lobby groups.

‘You see that a lot with climate groups, they have been some recent news in the last day or so about the funding of some of these organisations.

‘There are lobbying groups in the environmental area who are climate change denialists, and very recently some of their funders have just been revealed.

Lord Lawson has refused to name funders of his think tank since it was formed in 2009, explaining that they may be vilified by environmentalists.

On Tuesday the Guardian newspaper publicly outed two ‘secret’ donors who have supported the foundation.

Lord Lawson – who describes himself as a ‘climate realist’ has said his think-tank is ‘open-minded on the contested science of global warming’, but remains ‘deeply concerned’ about the costs of policies proposed in the quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sir Paul added: ‘We need to be aware of those who mix up science, based on evidence and rationality, with politics and ideology, where opinion, rhetoric and tradition hold more sway. We need to be aware of political or ideological lobbyists who do not respect science, cherry picking data or argument, to support their pre-determined positions.’

Mr Paterson, who is to deliver the Global Warming Policy Foundation annual lecture next month, left his cabinet position with a rant at the power of environmental pressure groups.

He said he had grave misgivings about the influence of ‘the Green Blob’, adding: ‘By this I mean the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape.’

Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, accused Sir Paul of using ‘the language of extremism’.

‘If he can’t live with critics and sceptics that is too bad. But there is no need to use this kind of violent and aggressive vocabulary.

‘Scepticism used to be a sign of science itself. When scientists cannot cope with that, and instead use this language of extremism, it is a sign of desperation, a sign they are losing the plot.’

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